By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
Even the friendliest divorces can go awry. You can start out as friends and end up archenemies.
Divorce can be especially grievous when there are children in the mix. Visitation, custody, child support, and other family law issues intermingle with a couple’s anger and disillusionment to form a dangerous and chaotic recipe.
The best way to get through the divorce process is to keep a level head and document everything.
Everything Changes: It is sad when two people who once lived together and had children together can no longer have a civil conversation. The children become pawns for leverage and emotional blackmail.
When a divorce begins to go down this path, it is important to hold your emotions in check and make a concerted effort to keep the children away from the battlefield. Let the attorneys do the fighting – not you and your soon-to-be ex.
An antagonistic, estranged spouse will do things in a divorce that she would never do under normal circumstances. She will drop the children off early or late, just to upset her estranged husband. Or she will be late reimbursing him for the school field trip because she knows that this will inconvenience him.
Wasted Energy: As a paralegal for 30 years, I saw some unbelievably bizarre behavior from scorned spouses. The strangest occurrence had to do with groceries.
The ex-husband put two bags of groceries on the kitchen table and then walked back out to his car to get the rest. But when he returned to his kitchen, the first two bags of groceries were gone.
His soon-to-be ex-wife had snuck into the house while her husband was in the garage and absconded with the first two bags of groceries! I’m not sure what she was trying to accomplish.
Why Document? When a divorce takes the path of insanity, documentation by the receiving party is essential. Have a pad of paper next to the phone.
Keep a record of every antagonistic phone call, threat, affront, and failure to adhere to the rules. Your attorney should be updated on all threats and violations of court orders.
Documentation of erratic behavior will probably be used in court, if your attorney deems it necessary. Even if your documentation is not presented at one hearing, it may be utilized at a later date to help support your case.
Restraining Orders: Restraining orders are often a necessity when a divorce turns hostile. If you are the one requesting the restraining order, keep a copy of it in your car’s glove compartment, at work, and in your house next to the telephone and front door.
If you have to call the police, you should inform them right away that you have a restraining order, and be prepared to show it to them when they arrive.
Safety First: If your ex decides to play hardball, the best thing that you can do is maintain good records and keep you and your children safe. If safety becomes an issue, you might want to move in temporarily with relatives or move to an undisclosed location, if you are allowed to per your court order. Remember, men aren’t the only ones who engage in domestic violence. Women do it, too.
Judges are well acquainted with revengeful, antagonistic spouses. If you keep a level head and handle yourself in a dignified, responsible manner, it will become apparent to the judge that you are the fair and rational party. Self-control will lay a foundation for the court in determining your credibility.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.